This post was written by Friday guest blogger Emma Garman.
I’m fascinated to learn from Randa in for Moorish Girl that the ‘novel’ Lila Says has been adapted for the big screen by West Beirut director Ziad Doueiri. As people may recall, when the anonymously-authored book was translated from the French in 1999 there was frenzied speculation on its actual genesis, one theory being that it was the work of a white middle-aged and -class literature professor masquerading as the genuine diary of a nineteen-year-old Parisian Arab boy. Complete with broken sentences, gaps and incoherencies, the strangely enchanting and moving story tells of narrator Chimo’s ultimately tragic infatuation with sixteen-year-old temptress Lila, whose graphic sexual come-ons contrast with, in Chimo’s words:
her little face so pure and innocent you’d turn yourself inside out for her I swear, and that delicate perfect little head I wouldn’t dare touch a hair of, a face from heaven, the face of a lily, a young saint, that’s how I see her.
Jonathan Romney’s blurb of the movie for the BFI London Film Festival:
For all its (largely verbal) explicitness, Douieri’s film has an odd innocence, and could almost be described as a multi-cultural teenage Betty Blue. This provocative film – as much about tolerance as sexuality – certainly gets a boost from two impressive young leads, and the stylistic verve Douieri showed in his much-praised debut West Beirut are fully present here. Notable features are a richly wrought score by Nitin Sawnhey, and French cinema’s most sexually charged bicycle ride since Jules et Jim.